Youth unemployment, especially among the Lagosian is alarming. However, technology presents a good solution to youth unemployment. Therefore, there is an urgent need to leverage technology to empower youths in Lagos state so that the unemployment rate will reduce drastically. With four solutions approach, viz: capacity building, entrepreneurship, job creation and vocational skill development, youth unemployment can be reduced greatly.
These were among the recommendations reached at the tech hub activation event hosted by Techuncode.com in partnership with Impact Hub and which heralded the 2022 Lagos state Economic Summit also called Ehingbeti.
Meanwhile, present at the event were seasoned speakers doing amazing things in the tech space.
According to them, there is a need to leverage the power of technology to move Lagos state forward by reducing the youth unemployment rate in the state.
Moreover, to solve the problem of youth employment, the experts identified four pillars: capacity building, entrepreneurship, job creation and vocational skill development.
Panellists at the event deliberated on the theme, “Bridging the Youth Unemployment Gap with Tech: The Solution Is Within.”
Among the panellists was the Lagos State Commissioner For Science & Technology, Mr Hakeem Fahm Popoola.
Also at the event were the Chief of Lagos Field Office, UNICEF, Celine Lafoucriere; Founder/Dir. of Development, Tech4Dev, Joel Ogunsola; Global Head of Marketing – FUZU, Irene Aguh and the Manager, Cisco Corporate Affairs, West & South Africa, the Imoh Akpan BD.
Meanwhile, the Partnerships Lead at Impact Hub, Isioma Udeozo, moderated the session which had over 100 participants both physical and virtual.
Speaking at the event, the Lagos State Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Hakeem Popoola Fahm, said there is a need to leverage technology to close the unemployment gap among the youth.
He said for Lagos to attain socio-economic growth, it needs to leverage the power of ICT.
According to him, Lagos’s path to sustainable socio-economic growth also cuts across data.
He said “Data is the next foil” while the “future of work is today.”
The commissioner also remarked that “technology is not static, so people need to be constantly evolving.”
According to him, “Digitalization is the democratisation of knowledge.”
Meanwhile, other panellists gave insight into the requirements for the growing Lagos economy.
According to them, “there is a high surge in unemployment in the state. And this can be solved when more opportunities are provided for the youths in the state.”
They also identified technology as one of the essential trends that have come to play in the workforce.
According to them, “there are opportunities for employment in the tech space” but the challenge with it is the lack of skilled talents to take up these jobs.
They also identified other issues shadowing the employment of youths including employers’ lack of trust in job seekers’ skills/capabilities, archaic and outdated curricula, and inaccessibility to resources at the grassroots level among others.
Also speaking at the event, Founder and Director of Development at Tech4Dev, Joel Ogunsola noted that ensuring standardization and quality in the tech space are some of the challenges of the sector.
He said despite the fact that these issues should take the front burner in many discussions, that people, however, are not paying attention to them.
Mr Ogunsola said the capacity building will teach people to take the initiative in developing themselves to quality and standards by maximizing platforms.
On the wrong notion many people have about joining the tech space, he said people should have a better understanding of why they are entering the industry and not just merely for financial freedom.
Regarding curriculum and skills acquisition, the tech founder said “People need to have skills and not just certificates.”
He said there is an urgent need for a reform of the curriculum in Nigerian educational institutions that will integrate tech skills so that people can be trained on several skills from the grassroots level.
Speaking on why many entrepreneurs are not successful, Joel pointed out that everyone is not cut out to be an entrepreneur.
On her part, the Chief of UNICEF, Celine Lafoucriere spoke about the need for public and private partnerships in tackling the challenges.
She said, “there is a need for a public-private partnership for the proper structuring of skills acquisition and partnership here means more available resources, infrastructures and platforms.”
According to her “partnering for impact is very important today. Also, partnerships will create more room for capacity building. There would be more concerns with job providers in the formal sector to develop content that is relevant and future-focused to promote job-ready graduates,” she said.
Equally speaking at the event, the Global Head of Marketing at FUZU, Irene Aguh differentiated what a career and a job are. According to her, “people often confuse the two.”
She said “a job is something you do while a career is something you grow into and it becomes a part of you. And if we want to solve the issue of job unemployment in the state, we need to look at this.
“It will inspire people to further want to develop themselves rather than pursue money.”
She said that there is a need to educate people on the potential that they have.
“Also, there is a need to educate people on the available skills. This would enable them to be able to make right choices. And one way we can do this is through grassroots programs,” she said.
Similarly, the Manager at Cisco Corporate Affairs, Imoh Akpan said “we need to have quality trainers to provide quality training.”
This he said while discussing the need for capacity building and the problem of standardization.
According to him, if those giving the training are not properly trained, then they will not also be able to offer quality training to others.
Imoh also spoke on the need for people to maximize platforms that offer training on skills.
He mentioned some organisations that have helped in training youths in skill acquisition, adding that aside from the technical skills available, there is an aspect of soft skills to be learnt too.
According to him, soft skills are as important as hard skills.
Also, people need to build capacity in both technical skills and soft skills.
The Cisco member however revealed that there are job opportunities in the state but sadly, that there are not enough competent skills for the jobs.
Other recommendations that arose from the discourse were as follows:
- Govt. incentives (tax rebates) for established vocational centres to encourage standardization of training modules and quality upgrades in delivery.
- Entrepreneurship is part of the secondary school curriculum and module for final-year students in the university.
- Adoption of programs and policies that support the growth of startups.
- Incorporate soft-skills training early on in the curriculum up until the graduate level.
- Encourage the development of industry-specific training schools.
- Curriculum reforms.
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